***Editor’s Note: Due to the impact of COVID-19, the Office of Education Standards is conducting one-day ‘thematic visits’ to Cayman Islands schools in the Spring 2022 term in lieu of more in-depth inspections. (Click to expand.)
(Read our story on the decision here.) The Current will publish a story on each individual school, as well as stories from a more comprehensive perspective.***
The small size of Clever Fish had worked to the school’s advantage in terms of dealing with the pandemic, an Office of Education Standards inspector said.
The school had experienced relatively few cases of COVID-19 and little, if any, learning loss among students, according to a letter to Steph Rasmussen from Senior Inspector David Baldwin.
“The school had reported very few cases of Covid amongst either the staff or students throughout the pandemic. This was accredited, in part, to the school’s robust adherence to Covid protocols,” Baldwin said.
The visit to the school occurred on 30 March and the inspector’s summary is dated 31 March.
“I did not find any significant concerns” during the school visit, the inspector said.
Unlike full inspection reports, the inspectors do not assign graded judgments to schools as a result of the one-day visits. Inspectors conduct interviews with school leadership, teachers and administration, as well as reviewing documentation.
Clever Fish offers full-time secondary school education for children in Years 7-11, following the British curriculum.
Baldwin said, “50% of the students had educational psychologist reports and many recommended small and calm environments. The school were able to deliver this within the appropriate Covid regulations and protocols.”
Clever Fish was approved as a full-time high school for 25 students in fall 2020.
“The school had grown in terms of student numbers from the start of the pandemic. This was attributed, in part, to parents and students being unwilling or unable to return to various schools abroad when Covid took hold in the Cayman Islands. Students wished to stay on Island,” the inspector said.
As the school grew, the school added new staff members, including senior leaders.
The school reported “minimal learning loss and continued progress in all core subjects” over the past two academic years. Additionally, students with Special Education Needs had not experienced increased anxiety levels due to COVID.”
“This was accredited to the uniqueness of the school setting and the small number of students that had been exposed to the virus on a first-hand basis,” the inspector said.
During this school year, Clever Fish had an attendance rate of 93%, with an absence rate of 1.76% attributed to COVID.
The school continued field trips and sports events through the pandemic.
“The owner of the school checked in on the wellbeing of the principal on a daily basis. The principal checked in on all staff regularly and the senior leadership team added additional support to all staff. Staff reported an open ethos at the school with strong peer-to-peer support. Staff reported the school as being an extended family,” Baldwin said.
The school had instituted a number of measures in response to COVID, including mask-wearing, hand-sanitizing and social distancing. Parents were not allowed to enter the building during drop-off or pick-up, and the school had hired a full-time cleaner to work before, during and after the school day.